From today’s kids who know the world’s most famous plumber from racing virtual karts through different challenges, to nostalgic old-timers who can hum or whistle every melody accompanying the quest to liberate a kidnapped princess—Far Eastern University had a little something for Super Mario fans.
And the judges liked what they saw.
Flips, jumps, dance moves and stunts aimed at reliving the excitement of playing the popular video game character was central to the FEU Cheering Squad’s performance on Saturday, when it ruled the highly anticipated UAAP Cheerdance competition at Mall of Asia Arena.
“Honestly, this wasn’t our goal,” said FEU coach Randell San Gregorio. “Our goal was to complete [the routine] and give justice to Super Mario because last year, we didn’t give justice to Francis M (late rapper Francis Magalona).”
The members of the Morayta squad outdid themselves with a mix of creativity, athleticism and perfection, wowing a crowd of 18,122 fans inside the arena on the way to collecting 702.5 points for a performance that featured such familiar and beloved characters like Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, and Toad.
The victory ended the school’s two-year wait for the title in one of the UAAP’s most-watched events.
“We’re super blessed we won it again; our fourth [victory],” San Gregorio said. “This is a double celebration because FEU now holds the most podium finishes in cheerdance history with 21. So we got two records for FEU. We’re just grateful.”
The National University (NU) Pep Squad, a formidable crew that has dominated the cheerdance scene in the past decade or so, grabbed the early lead with 697 points on a performance that paid homage to legendary musician Elvis Presley.
And NU being NU, even with the exit of decorated mentor Ghicka Bernabe, the school’s performance again featured breathtaking stunts. The team won the stunts department but eventually settled for second with 697 points.
“To be honest, it’s sad,” said NU Pep Squad coach Gab Bajacan, who hopes to follow in Bernabe’s footsteps. “When we stepped on those mats, we were really well-prepared.”
The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Salinggawi Dance Troupe, performing last, went K-Pop and went through their routine with the songs of the popular Korean group Blackpink playing in the backdrop.
UST flexed its expertise in the dance category, which it won, but was bogged down by the biggest penalty among the eight squads with 15 points.
FEU took home the P100,000 top prize but lined its pockets with more cash after winning a total of P150,000 more by ruling five side contests worth P30,000 each.
NU took home P60,000 while UST bagged P40,000.
The final order finish from fourth place onwards was: Adamson Pep Squad, University of the Philippines Pep Squad, University of the East Pep Squad, DLSU Animo Squad, and Ateneo Blue Eagles. —WITH A REPORT FROM LANCE AGCAOILI